There’s no universal grading for the condition of a shipping container, but there are two main ways – structure and aesthetics. Both of these factors can be considered independently of the other, for example; a container may be structurally sound for shipping purposes but may look unsightly due to rust and paint degradation, or lots of small dents. However, grading is a subjective process, not only within a company, but across the container industry. This means that although two companies might both classify their containers in terms of grade A, B, or C, it does not mean that a Grade A container will be the same standard for both. An abbreviation read a lot is IICL and stands for International Institute of International Container Lessors – they provide the strictest (and most common) guidelines for container equipment inspections. Their main goal is to provide a container that meets shipper and lessee acceptability and ensure that cargo is not damaged due to the condition of the container.


F – Foodgrade Containers

– New and refurbished containers fall into this category
– Structural condition must be IICL 5 and with valid CSC Plate
– Highest internal cleanliness and scratches must not exceed 2mm in depth
– Waterproof and no daylight visible from inside if doors are closed
– Has not carried any toxic chemicals or products
– Standard for food grade quality/ import mostly ruled by governments


Grade A Container 

– New, refurbished or used containers
– Has only minimal rust and dents
– Is wind and water tight (WWT)
– Doors, floor and seals are in great condition
– Structural condition must be IICL 5 and with valid CSC Plate
– Interior must be almost mark free
– Minimal surface rust

Grade B (Cargo worthy)

Cargo worthy: In short CW, means that the shipping container is deemed suitable for cargo transportation under CSC criterions. Another criterion is that the container meets all the standards set in its original specification. Typically, it also implies that the container has a valid CSC, which is a safety approval plate that containers used for international transport must have.

– At least WWT or IICL 5 with valid CSC Plate
– Used containers fall in this category
– Interior will be minimum of 50% mark free, some scruffing or scratching and minor surface rust
– Floor will be stained or marked and may have minor delamination
– Exterior may have more prevalent corrosions and dents
– Container may have small amount of previous repairs


Grade C (WWT Container)

– Often called wind and water tight or cargo worthy 2
– Extensive markings, corrosion and scratches
– Floor marked and may also have moderate delamination
– Several previous repairs
– Most common and cheapest
– Can show wear and tear
– Often time used storage containers
– Can be used for shipping but needs valid CSC Plate

Grade D/ E (As is)

Damaged containers that have been taken out of commission in the shipping industry and sometimes not even usable for storage. They could have majority damage on the roof or walls, damaged floors, bad seals, doors that are difficult to open, or structural damage.